Tuesday, 22 January 2013

paris: île saint louis

Audrey Hepburn said that Paris was always a good idea, and you know what, I totally agree with her. Totally. Let's go a little back in time. One of my favourite moments from the October trip was a walk in the 4th district that took us to Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, and into two shops that I had been wanting to visit, Papier + and Melodies Graphiques. Yesterday I was pleasantly reminded of this area that I loved so much when I found a link on the Bright.Bazaar blog (thank you Will) to a photo of Café Louis Philippe taken by Nichole Robertson of Obvious State.

That café is next to Pont Louis Philippe, the bridge that takes you over to the small and beautiful island, Île Saint Louis. I stood on that bridge when I took the first two photos.

Before going to Paris I had read Paris: The Collected Traveler by Barrie Kerper, a book that I have mentioned a few times on the blog (it has both pros and cons; my copy is falling to pieces which is another story). It contains, among others, a collection of articles on Paris and one of my favourites is a piece by Herbert Gold called 'On the Île Saint-Louis' that starts on page 196. Here is part of it:

The Ile-Saint-Louis is like France itself—an ideal of grace and proportion—but it differs from actual France in that it lives up to itself. Under constant repair and renovation, it remains intact. It is a small place derived from long experience. It has strength enough, and isolation enough, to endure with a certain smugness the troubles of the city and the world at whose center it rests.

The self-love is mitigated partly by success at guarding itself and partly by the ironic shrugs of its inhabitants, who, despite whatever aristocratic names or glamorous professions, live among broken-veined clochards (hobos) with unbagged bottles, tourists with unbagged guidebooks, Bohemians with bagged eyes.

The actual troubles of the world do not miss the Ile Saint-Louis—one doesn't string hammocks between the plane trees here—but the air seems to contain fewer mites and less nefarious Paris ozone.

The lack of buses, the narrow streets, the breeze down the Seine help. And as to perhaps the most dangerous variety of Paris smog, the Ile Saint-Louis seems to have discovered the unanswerable French reply to babble, noise, advice and theory—silence.

One can, of course, easily get off this island, either by walking on the water of the Seine or, in a less saintly way, by taking a stroll of about two minutes across the slim bridges to the Left Bank, the Right Bank, or the bustling and official neighbor, the Ile de la Cite.

Island fever is not a great danger, despite the insular pleasures of neatness, shape, control. Some people even say they never go to "Paris." (In 1924, there was an attempt to secede from Paris and France, and Ile Saint-Louis passports were issued.) Monsieur Filleul, the fishmonger, used to advertise: "Deliveries on the Island and on the Continent."

[black text, mine]

I found Herbert Gold's article under a different name on the website of the Los Angeles Times. Follow the link if you are interested in reading the whole piece.

I have to explore Île Saint Louis better when I go back to Paris. I need better photos of its streets and scenery and I definitely have to get me some of that famous Berthillon ice cream that everyone seems to love.

On that autumn day in October we just wanted to sit down and have something to drink before heading over the Pont Saint Louis bridge to view the Notre Dame on Île de la Cité. We decided to enjoy tea at Le Saint Régis, on the corner of Rue Jean du Bellay and Rue Saint Louis en l'Île (see left photo below). It was probably the most expensive tea I have ever had in my life but the people watching on that corner was totally worth it.

If you are in the mood to get lost in Paris then please visit Igor's Happy Interior Blog. Lately he has been taking us to Paris in his From Place To Space posts. He's killing me!

photo credit:
Lisa Hjalt


  1. And here it is the answer to my dreams, Lisa. In 2009, me and my boyfriend went to Paris and on the last day there, we found a very nice cafe we wanted to stay and eat something, but I only remembered it was Philippe and something and I was trying to remember several times the whole name of the cafe. And here it is, on your blog! Thank you, Lisa! :* Audrey Hepburn is so right!

  2. Beautiful - I´m going to Paris this year for the first time and I can´t wait! :-)

  3. Your city tours are wonderful, Lisa. And those last two photos make me wish I were there. :)

  4. aah, you found the most expensive tea to accompany my most expensive coffee! It's so worth it - and that's why it doesn't happen everyday. Lovely images Lisa:)x

  5. I am living vicariously through your beautiful photo's, Lisa. One day I hope to visit myself. Thanks for the lovely tour : )


  6. This was such a lovely area of Paris Lisa and your photos capture it beautifully xx


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